It appears to me that life in the corporate world is getting tougher and tougher. They’re trying to get more production out of fewer people. Things have changed. Let me tell you how. This comes from one company.
Concerning sick days: We will no longer accept a doctor statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work. And as for surgery: Operations are now banned. As long as you are an employee here, you need all your organs. You should not consider removing anything. We hired you intact. To have something removed constitutes a breach of employment. And when it comes to personal days: Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday and Sunday.
I will get how this relates to my teaching this morning later in the message.
This is the second in a four-part series on the resurrection of the body. I’m not going into the doctrine today. Each Sunday in April we will emphasize one part of our bodies that will be resurrected because well it made it into a resurrection story. Today we are talking about hands.
Hands can do a lot. One woman remembers when she was little she and her grandpa would go ice fishing. When they were back home, he would take her socks and boots off, and hold her feet in his hands until they were warm again. That woman remembers her grandpa’s hands.
Some of us experience discomfort with our hands because of arthritis. Our hands are what we use to touch someone with love, comfort, understanding, and…anger. We instruct our children and grandchildren on what good touch and what bad touch is. We feed ourselves, and sometimes others, with our hands. We keep ourselves clean with our hands.
Today we use a handshake, a pat on the back, or a hug, to bless people. To let them know that we care and love them. We use our hands to comfort those grieving with a hand and arm around the shoulder, to celebrate a victory or a success with a high five, to hand a gift to someone for an accomplishment, or birthday, or just because it was the right thing to do.
Hands are used in not such good ways either, but that’s for some other time.
How different our lives would be if we could not use our hands. For our hands, help us to reach out, our hands make us human.
I want to show you a clip from the great movie, Schindler’s List. As almost all of us know, Schindler was a German Nazi who grew to empathize with the Jews in his industrial company, and then ended up using his wealth to buy the lives of 1100 Jews, saving them from extermination. This scene occurs at the end of the movie. I will ask you something, sort of a quiz about the scene when we are finished. So pay attention.
In his book on prayer, Henri Nouwen said it’s impossible to pray with clenched fists. Clenched fists are a sign of bitterness, disappointment, and hate. One cannot approach God with clenched fists, only with open hands.
The truth is, there is very little we can do with a clenched fist, except punch somebody’s lights out. Try to peal a banana with a fist. Try to play the piano with a fist. Try to plant your garden with clenched fists. You can do almost nothing unless your hands are open.
There’s no doubt that our hands, which are so important to us, will be part of the resurrection of the body.
Jesus began his training as a carpenter’s apprentice in his father’s shop. His hands cut lumber and fashioned rough boards into objects of use: tables, chairs, door frames, and hitching posts.
When he began his public ministry, he did so with the open hands of someone who had love and compassion for his people. He went into Simon Peter’s house, laid his hands on Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her of a fever. When children came to him, he would gather them with his hands, bless them, and tell everyone around that children were the sign of God’s kingdom.
He would reach out and touch with his healing hands those who were sick. When a blind man approached him one day, Jesus spat in the dirt and made mud with his hands with which to apply to the man’s eyes. His sight was restored. He laid his hands on a dead girl, bringing her back to life.
I’m sure his hands weren’t soft. They had to be calloused and toughened. But they were more than just that. They were also gentle, inviting, healing, and full of hope.
Real men aren’t always tough guys. Real men care, show compassion, try to heal and help.
Human hands, God’s people’s hands are open, working, building, happy, and hopeful hands. We can change the world for the good with our hands.
In fact, I’ve been working around my house. I am much more the gardener type than the handy-man. I want to show you what I’ve done, what my hands have done since about Halloween.
Our lawn was looking really bad, really dried out, dead grass, what was left of it, that is. We took a picture of it since it was so bad. And now today. The turn around has been amazing, wouldn’t you say?
I often see churches emphasize putting hands in the air when they’re singing and worshiping. I think that’s great. Worshiping hands are wonderful. Still, when it comes to faith, hands shouldn’t just go up in praise. They should go down for work and labor.
As Psalm 90:17 says, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!”
In today’s story, the disciples are gathered together when Jesus suddenly appears among them. They’re scared and skeptical, full of doubt and disbelief. To help them overcome this, Jesus shows them his old but now new hands and feet.
These are the same hands he had used to put mud on a blind man’s eyes, yes, and the same feet Lazarus’s sister Mary had anointed with an expensive perfume and then dried with her hair—and they’re the hands and feet that had been nailed to a cross.
Jesus invites his friends to see that he was wounded and scarred. But that’s he’s also alive and resurrected.
In fact, that’s the point. Jesus’ scars in his hands are the point. They’re his work. What happened to his hands is the work he did for the kingdom. Jesus carried his work with him. It was in his hands. The work he did for God his Father he carried in his body, and the nail prints are the proof, the showing of it.
What work are you going to carry with you to heaven to show God? What have you done with your hands, what have you built with your faith, what have you worked at that will reveal your work when you seek to find your peace and joy in the God of blessed life?
Faith is about enough faith to make a difference. Faith that falls short of changing something, doing something, building something, laboring for something, doing something for the kingdom, well, that isn’t really faith. That’s more like a wish.
If it doesn’t matter enough to you to do something about it, then it really doesn’t matter that much to you, does it?
Give the life and work of the church some of your attention and time and focus and talent and treasure. We ought to be doing the work of the Lord with our lives, with our hands.
During World War II, a church in Strasbourg was destroyed. Nothing remained except a heap of rubble and broken glass, or so the people thought till they began clearing away the masonry. Then they found a statue of Christ still standing erect. In spite of all the bombing it was unharmed except that both hands were missing. Eventually rebuilding of the church began.
One day a sculptor saw the figure of Christ, and offered to carve new hands. The church officials met to consider the sculptor’s friendly gesture—and decided not to accept the offer. Why? Because the members of that church said: “Our broken statue touches the spirits of men, but that He has no hands to minister to the needy or feed the hungry or enrich the poor—except our hands. He inspires. We perform.”
A Christian put it this way: “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which Christ is to bless all people now.” Teresa of Avila
The ability to work hard is a gift of God’s grace. Work for the Lord deserves enthusiasm. Let us work for Jesus with joy and gratitude, giving him the honor, lifting up his name and love by putting our hands to work and labor in his fields, in our church.
Can anybody say Amen?